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The Deosai Plains
Photograph by Rao Hamid

The Deosai National Park is located in the Deosai Plains in North Eastern Pakistan. Deosai means ‘Land of Giants’ in the Balti dialect; it is the second highest plateau in the world, towering at 13,500 feet above sea level. With pleasant weather from June to October, it is the perfect summer getaway.

Getting to the ‘giants’… The best way to reach the Deosai Plains is by flying from Islamabad to Skardu and taking a 40-kilometre (three-hour) drive to the Park. You will need a four wheel drive and a local driver who knows the routes and can manage the often road-less terrain. The Park charges an entrance fee of Rs 20 per person.
Back to basics… Most people stay at one of the many guesthouses in Skardu and visit the Park during the day. If you want to spend the night in the Plains, the only way to do so is by setting up a tent there, or renting one.

Eco tourism at its best… The Park affords some spectacular views of the majestic Nanga Parbat Mountain; the shimmering Sheosar Lake is equally breathtaking and a popular camping site. You can also go hiking on the Plains along with the Park Rangers or tourist guides and admire the scenery. At this time of the year, the Plains are aflame with alpine flowers of every imaginable colour. Remember that visitors are allowed to “leave nothing but footprints” and “take nothing but pictures”.

Rare wildlife… The Park is home to several endangered species including the golden marmot, rare Himalayan brown bear, ibex, snow leopard and countless eagles and falcons; needless to say, hunting is prohibited.

The magnificent Sheoshar Lake
Photograph by Rao Hamid

Something fishy to eat… Campers can catch trout from the nearby lakes and streams after getting a permit; so it is recommended that you bring your own food and water. There are a few roadside eateries outside the park; and although the fare they serve is far from elaborate, it is fresh and wholesome.

In a nutshell… The Deosai National Park is a national and natural treasure. The plains are a sight to behold, especially at this time of the year. Here, life is in as natural a form as is possible in the 21st century – quiet, serene and surrounded by nature in all its untouched glory. But remember, due to the high altitude, some people may experience shortness of breath.

– Romano Karim Yusuf

First published in the Real Estate Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on July 8, 2012.

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